Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Travelling: Alcala de Henares

Located about 40 minutes east of Madrid is a small city called Alcala de Henares; "Alcala" means "Citadel" and "Henares" is the river that runs through here.

I was met with a stoned-faced reception on arrival. The weather as you can tell was still quite bleak. Wet cobblestones and a poor centre-of-gravity made the walk into the city centre a fun one.

This is the Palacio Laredo. Built in 1882 it's now a museum and as I'd arrived quite late in the day it was closed but as it holds old copies of Bibles, I'm not sure I'd have gone in for long anyway.

Parque Warner is the biggest park around Madrid, and I had no intention of visiting it on this trip. #YouCanDoThisMalcolm

There are tons of old religious buildings in this city, which I guess is why it got it's UNESCO label. You walk past places like this thinking they must be the most famous building in the city only to find it's not.

This is the main square in the city. I'm sure it would look better if the trees hadn't been cut right back.

Between the old buildings there are lots of quaint gardens. 

The main draw in the city is the old university campus, one of the first in the world and inspiration to the design of a number of US campuses.

It wasn't easy to find the entrance to the university, I walked around most of it before realising had I walked the other way I'd have gotten it. There are a number of walking tours, unfortunately they were all in Spanish, on today's visit at least. I did pay up and hung around for the next tour to start but I got fed up waiting and when I saw a couple of other tourists jump the entrance I did the same thing.

The courtyard, which is the main bit and the part I wanted to see was stunning, with an immaculate 3-storey arched structure.

With no real reason to head immediately back I decided to explore the city. Some covered walkways provided shelter from the rain, and I found a nice little restaurant to grab some dinner close by.

Miguel de Cervantes is like the Spanish Shakespeare and the author of Don Quixote. He is not the Cervantes from the Soul Calibur series of games. The author was born in this city and his house is now a little museum to his life. It was closed for me, boo!

A nice, if tarnished mural that I found by accident.

There was no chance of missing this one.

I finished my visit with a quick walk around the cathedral for which I was stopped half-way around by the chap in charge asking for a Euro for the privilege of being able to do so. Needless to say I didn't stick around and soon made my way back.

Alcala de Henares is an easy UNESCO tick to get, if that's your thing. In hindsight I should have gone earlier in the day and when the weather is kinder, but I still got to see what I wanted so wasn't disappointed.

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